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Book review: 'A Serpent's Tooth' tells mystery of a 'Lost Boy,' missing mom and costly secrets

Published: Saturday, Aug. 29 2015 7:37 p.m. MDT

"A Serpent's Tooth: A Walt Longmire Mystery" is by Craig Johnson. He will be at the King's English on July 25. (Viking)

"A SERPENT'S TOOTH," by Craig Johnson, Viking, $26.95, 335 pages (f)

Like his novel "Hell is Empty," author Craig Johnson borrows a line from Shakespeare for the title of his new book. "A Serpent's Tooth" is Johnson's ninth book in the Walt Longmire mystery series.

The line, "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child" comes from the first act of Shakespeare's "King Lear."

In this case, the thankless child is the mother of a so-called Mormon "Lost Boy" named Cord Lynear. Cord happens to show up in Sheriff Longmire's town and after a short chase is captured and taken to jail.

Longmire soon learns the boy has been cast out of a Mormon spin-off group in South Dakota. While attempting to learn more about the boy, Longmire discovers the boy's mother has also been cast out and is currently missing.

Craig Johnson is the author of Craig Johnson is the author of "A Serpent's Tooth: A Walt Longmire Mystery." He will be at the King's English on July 25. (Elisabeth Roger)

As soon as Longmire, his second-in-command Victoria Moretti and his good friend Henry Standing Bear start searching for the boy's mother, they uncover a number of strange happenings in the small towns of northeastern Wyoming that lead them to some even stranger secrets.

About this time, Cord is joined by an odd-looking character who calls himself Orrin Porter Rockwell. Rockwell claims to be the same man who long ago protected the Mormon prophets Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.

After introducing the topic of religion and occasionally attempting to clarify the differences between the spin-off religions and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Johnson moves away from the religious aspects of the story and focuses more on the action adventure his main character is famous for.

While Johnson's writing is his usual fast-paced narrative, the plot to this book does not seem fully developed. At times it seems to be going in too many directions, and the religious aspect seems to be a distraction in a story about much more than religious spin-off groups.

The mentions of Mormons are not always positive, and Johnson's characters are skeptical of Mormonism and religion in general. It also contains a fair amount of harsh language and some sexual references.

If you go ...

What: Craig Johnson book signing

When: Thursday, July 25, 7 p.m.

Where: Viridian Events Center, 8030 S. 1825 West, West Jordan

Web: kingsenglish.com

Steve Larson is one of the founders of Information Alliance, a Utah-based data collection company. He currently serves as vice president of sales. He spends his free time writing and practicing photography. He also enjoys spending time outdoors.

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